Working in a Supermarket During Lockdown

by Lucy Parish

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I got the text asking me to come back to work almost straight after I had to leave my university accommodation.

My first shift was mere days after Boris Johnson’s lockdown speech (despite his apprehension to use the word lockdown) and I saw small changes quickly ricochet through the store that I’ve worked at now for almost four years.

I noted that the colossal neon green sign now looms menacingly over the line outside, which trails back further than the naked eye can see. Customers rattle their silver trolleys impatiently, keeping two meters away from the person ahead. I sigh.

A week passes, and flimsy PVC screens go up, forming a barrier between me and the customers. Hastily laminated signs appear on the staff room door letting us know face masks are available in the office if we need them. I don’t take one.

Now as I walk through the store, customers freeze when they see me, standing back to let me pass. It’s abnormal and I can’t help feeling as though I have the plague. I saw two people with gas masks on yesterday, actual gas masks. The flashbacks I got to that Doctor Who episode were rather jarring.

Customers can only buy three of one item per household, but I must admit, denying an old man his fourth Twix bar won’t be a high point of my life. Despite this, my hand hovers steadily over the security button each time someone tries to argue about how much they desperately need four two-litre water bottles rather than three.

It’s been two weeks now, and arrows have been stickered on the floor mapping out the safest route through the store. They’re adhered to for the most part. I’ve stopped counting how many times I’ve been told to ‘keep safe’ and ‘thank you for what you’re doing’ as it was reaching the seventy thousand mark. I hear rumours about colleagues being coughed on, and xenophobic name-calling, and my mind boggles how the culprits have managed to get so far in life.

I keep seeing discarded gloves on the floor and in trolleys outside the store, and it’s proving very difficult to keep my cool.

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Four weeks have passed now, and we’re nearing the end of April. Easter has come and gone and the majority of the chocolate eggs have been reduced to 50p. The line outside is just as long. I miss hugs and talking in person with my nan.

If one more person asks when we’re getting more flour, I might have to quit.

At five and a half weeks, restrictions on items have lifted. Other things are changing too. It seems more people are paying with cash than ever before, with almost every person managing to make contact with my hand as they pass the money over. Someone actually licked their fingers to gain traction on a twenty-pound note before handing it to me yesterday, I couldn’t hide my disgust. The now scuffed arrows stickered on the floor are promptly ignored and are a laughing point when people arrive at my checkout. I don’t laugh with them.

Seeing the same people every week is slowly getting to me, leading me to the realisation that I’ve taken social interaction for granted my entire life.

During the sixth week, my mum offers to pick me up but I politely decline and walk home in the stifling heat. I pass a shirtless man wearing a face mask.

People are no longer moving out of the way when I get close, unless I tell them to. Occasionally I’m put on self-scan (with the machines that protest that there is nothing in the bagging area, when in fact there is), and it’s almost as if we’re not in lockdown. A man actually touched my shoulder as I was swiping my card to approve his alcohol today. I was rendered speechless.

The eighth week is here, or maybe the ninth, the weeks are starting to blur – or perhaps that happened a while ago. Lockdown is beginning to ease or so it seems. I dream about Prezzo, and TikTok.

I also stop social distancing, admitting a sort of defeat. I dart past people down aisles and sidestep trolleys, embracing this new normal.

No one talks about lockdown at work anymore, it’s just there, lurking.

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Lucy Parish is a first year Creative Writing student at Brunel University London. When she’s not working in a supermarket, she loves to read, write, and cuddle her dog.

Nest: A Covid-19 Easter Mini-Saga

by Emma Filtness

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Friday

I sit on the green velvet couch in my third floor flat staring out of the closed door to my Juliet balcony, sweltering in the sky-blue heat, and I’ve got no idea why they call it a balcony when it’s just a door that opens onto fresh air mediated by a grey metal railing overlooking the faded tarmac of a car park and the ugly Tetris-piled red brick of the building next door and I think surely Juliet must’ve had better than this as I clutch a navy can of fly and wasp killer, knuckles white, lid off and in a perpetual “position of readiness,” to quote my secondary school PE teacher, Ms Rugg (I wonder what became of her) during enforced netball training thinking they didn’t teach me this, they didn’t prepare me for this, there wasn’t a class on how to deal with wasps building a nest above the door to an invisible balcony during a pandemic and I’ve been googling all morning, clicking on hit after hit of perfect nightmare material – stalker-lens close-ups of antennae and all those legs and stripes and stingers that can be used again and again unlike bees, I wish they were bees, and pictures of round grey nests that look like paper mâché creations from a hell-dimension, and home-remedies offering wisdom like spray surfaces with peppermint oil or a mixture of clove oil and lemongrass and I haven’t even got a spray-bottle let alone the peppermint oil, only lavender and frankincense for my oil burner but there’s no scientific evidence so I panic-order two kinds of wasp killer with Prime with a dose of extremely short-lived vegetarian guilt and after check-out it tells me they won’t be here for another week as apparently they’re not “essential” and the property management team are not answering their phones as it’s not only a pandemic but a fucking bank holiday and no amount of Easter eggs will ever make this okay.

Saturday

I binge-watch Grey’s Anatomy from the beginning in an attempt to distract myself from the hive. I somehow managed to forget just how amazing Sandra Oh’s hair is, and the rest of her, to be honest, and think I finally need to watch Killing Eve soon. I’d be under the duvet ideally, but it’s too hot what with the door and window closed and the evil little shits keep nosing at the window. When I turn off the lights to sleep, I see tiny flitting shadows everywhere, but I know they are not in my room – they are inside my head. I dream of wasps, obviously.

Sunday

My partner bought me a chocolate egg, a posh one from M&S, but I managed to drop it somewhere between the bag-for-life and the kitchen worktop, and it feels like the perfect metaphor for life this Spring. I eat most of my stoved-in egg anyway and feel sick afterwards.

Monday

Brian from Rentokil called. He’s coming over tomorrow. I eat the last of my egg and a whole bag of Colin the Caterpillars. I’m on Season Two already (which is impressive, even for me).

Tuesday

Brian from Rentokil arrived a whole hour early and I could’ve kissed him, social distancing be damned (relax, I didn’t).

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meDr Emma Filtness is a poet and lecturer in Creative Writing at Brunel University London, currently zine-making and binge-watching her way through the apocalypse. Follow her on Twitter @Em_Filtness and find her poetry project exploring nature and the dark feminine @cultofflora on Instagram.

Brunel Creative Writing students win 1st Prizes in short story competitions

1st Prize Winner R.V. Maloney. Source: http://www.dorsetfictionaward.co.uk/uploads/1/0/2/0/102049858/published/shortlisteepicture_1.jpg
Dorset Fiction 1st Prize Winner R.V. Maloney

Congratulations to 2nd year Brunel University London Creative Writing student R.V. Maloney, who was awarded  1st place in the international Dorset Fiction competition for her short story ‘The Greater Crested Tern’.

R.V. wrote the story following her weekly Creative Writing coursework prompts. She will be awarded a £500 cash prize, and her story will be featured in Dorset Fiction’s yearly anthology.

The judges said, “Within a thousand words, the story is threaded with blooming motifs and detail which are in turn sewn in to a wonderfully metaphysical piece. The writer uses an interesting range of sometimes obfuscated literary devices, which bed well into the prose. The creative and multilevelled story instantly caught our attention, and continued to blossom in our minds long after reading.”

Check out an interview with the author, and read her award-winning story, at the Dorset Fiction Award website.

Photo Credit: Scarlet Page / Henley Literary Festival
Photo Credit: Scarlet Page / Henley Literary Festival

Joint Honours Games Design and Creative Writing graduate Aimée White was awarded First Prize in the 2017 Dragonfly Tea Short Story Competition.

Aimée’s winning story ‘Generation Lotus’ was written to the contest theme of Journey and was selected by a panel of judges including comedian/writer Helen Lederer, journalist and novelist Paula Cocozza, and Daily Mail Literary Editor Sandra ParsonsAimée’s impressive £1500 1st Prize in the Main contest category was announced at an Awards Ceremony at Henley Literary Festival.

You can view all the 2017 Dragonfly Tea Short Story Competition winners and runners up in the Main and Children’s categories here.

 

Calling all budding designers: Book Cover Design Competition #Horror #SciFi #Fantasy

Book Cover Design Competition
Horror, Sci-fi & Fantasy

Brunel University London’s English & Creative Writing department is developing its first ever Horror, Science-fiction & Fantasy anthology entitled:

‘FAERIES, FIENDS & FLYING SAUCERS’

The anthology features a range of English & Creative Writing students’ short stories and non-fiction writing and launches on the 21st of March 2017.

The competition for the cover design is open to all Brunel University London Undergraduate students and as well as seeing your design used on all copies of the book (paperback & ebook) you can win 10 paperback copies of the book. Plus if you’re an aspiring graphic designer it’s a great addition to your CV.

The anthology includes three distinct genres –
Horror
Science fiction
Fantasy
– as the title suggests. So let your imagination run wild!

The design needs to be:

  • High-resolution, 300 dpi .tif/.jpg format OR vector eps format.
  • Size: A5 (148x210mm) plus a spine on the left (17x210mm).
  • Please keep back-up copies of your working files so if you win they can be easily edited.

Entries must be submitted by:
Friday 3rd of February
by 5pm

to Mr Frazer Lee via email (frazer.lee@brunel.ac.uk)
AND in hard copy form in an addressed envelope handed in at the Gaskell Building reception.

Good luck & happy designing!

 

Don’t miss: Hillingdon Literary Festival

image002When: 7th-9th October 2016

Where: Antonin Artaud Building, Brunel University

What: A FREE weekend of literary performances from over twenty-five bestselling and globally renowned authors with a lively festival atmosphere.

The festival will be home to  vibrant conversations, inspiring readings, book signings, masterclasses and workshops. Some of the author highlights this year include:

Amit Chaudhuri – Celebrated novelist, critic and musician, author of Oysseus Abroad

Samantha Shannon – Internationally bestselling author of The Bone Season series.

Will Self – Professor of Contemporary Thought at Brunel University London; journalist, political commentator, literary critic; author.

Ken Livingstone – Prominent Labour Party member, former Mayor of London, author of Being Red: A Politics for the Future.

Benjamin Zephaniah –World-renowned performance poet, activist and commentator; Professor in Creative Writing at Brunel University London.

Matt Haig – British novelist. His book Reasons to Stay Alive, a memoir about the author’s experience with depression, has been chosen as a World Book Night 2016 book.

Shappi Khorsandi – Author and comedian who has appeared on Channel 4’s Comedy Gala and Sport Relief. Her debut novel is Nina is Not Ok.

This year’s Hillingdon Literary festival also features its first communitysam_1204-768x576 writing competition, with shortlisted entries published in an anthology ‘Writing Local|Thinking Global‘ and an overall winner of £250 to be announced at the event. Several of our Brunel Creative Writers are on the list so come along to support them and read their work!

All events are free, but “Weekend Ticket” reservation via the website is strongly recommended, as tickets are selling out quickly! 

More info & tickets @ www.HillingdonLiteraryFestival.com

Screening: Xiaolu Guo’s UFO IN HER EYES

What: Screening and Q&A

When: Tuesday 24th May at 5-8pm

Where: Antonin Artaud 003

As part of next week’s Brunel Festival (http://www.brunelfestival.co.uk) there will be a free screening of  Xialou Guo’s ‘UFO in Her Eyes’, a feature film about a peasant woman in a Chinese village who claims that she has seen a UFO. As a result everything in her life and that of her community undergoes a tremendous transformation. The film explores identity, feminism and globalisation.

Xiaolu Guo has created a vocabulary of her own, both visual and linguistic, that reflects her sense of bXiaolu Guoeing caught between Chinese and English, and her experience growing up during her home country’s wild transition from totalitarian enclave to the new shrine of global capitalism. An “alien” at home and in the global intellectual elite, Guo is an ideal interpreter of the sense of alienation generated by social upheaval and globalization“- Toronto Film Festival, 2011

Xiaolu Guo wrote the novel, script and directed the film and will available for a Q & A session after the screening; a great opportunity to pick an acclaimed novelist and scriptwriter’s brains, as well as see an award winning film. Don’t miss it!

“UFO in her Eyes is surrealist and ironic, but also pierced with melancholy and beau­tiful photography. With startling detail, Guo reshapes reality into a hyper-vivid portrait of chaotic contemporary Chinese society.” – Toronto Film Festival

 To learn more about the author: http://www.guoxiaolu.com/index.htm.

 

 

Calling all budding designers: Cover Design Competition

The Creative Writing department are currently beginning the exciting process of developing this years anthology ‘The Imagination Project’ which features a range of second and third year students’ stories. The anthology launches on the 15th of March 2016.

The competition for the cover design is open to all Undergraduate students and as well as seeing your design used on all copies of the book, you can win a £50 Amazon voucher and 10 copies of the book. Plus if you’re an aspiring graphic designer it’s a great addition to your CV.

The anthology includes a diverse range of work so, as the title suggests, let your imagination run wild!

The design needs to be:

  • High-resolution, 300 dpi .tif/.jpg format OR vector eps format.
  • Size: A5 (148x210mm) plus a spine on the left (17x210mm).
  • Please keep a copy of your working files so if you win they can be easily edited

And must be submitted by Monday 15th of February at 5pm to Dr Bernadine Evaristo via email (Bernardine.Evaristo@brunel.ac.uk) AND in hard copy form in an addressed envelope handed in at the Gaskell reception.

For further information on what your submission must include please check out the link: http://www.brunel.ac.uk/cbass/arts-humanities/creative-writing/creative-writing-anthology-competition/_nocache

Good luck & happy designing!

Dear Freshers,

Congratulations on your fantastic A level results, they are well deserved.

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It’s not long now until you’ll set foot on Brunel’s campus as an official student, but until then, you have the a few weeks where you’re likely to feel nervous and excited all at once. Here are a few things to bare in mind during your fresher’s experience.

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1. You’re only a fresher once. I mean it lasts a whole year but that’s no excuse to rest on your laurels! Now, fresher’s week, and uni in general is what you make it, so if you want good grades you have to work for them, but during your freshers year it really doesn’t hurt to go a little bit wild. Of course, don’t take ‘go a little bit wild’ as an excuse to get arrested or hurt anyone, I mean just have fun, but stay safe. Definitely stay safe.

2. You’ll make really great friends. This is something that will happen really quickly, especially if you’re living on campus because you’re all in the same boat. You’re all away from home, all with people you don’t know and possibly wouldn’t even mingle with normally, but there’s something about halls that means you’ll have at least one good friend in there. On the first day I moved in, I was very shy and nervous, but as soon as I said hi to a couple of people I felt fine. Everyone’s going to be friendly for the first couple of weeks, and if at any point people stop being friendly/ sociable, you’ll have met the people on your course by then, and they will be great.

3. Sometimes in halls people can be noisy. This is something that you kind of have to roll with. During the day you probably won’t notice it so much because you’ll have music on, or you’ll be out or there will be that general hum of day to day life. However, (and I was very lucky with my whole building) there will be some noisier individuals. If you’re a light sleeper, I would recommend ear plugs. If you get the foamy ones you can still hear fire alarms through them so they’re okay in terms of your safety as well.

4. With that said, fire alarms happen. This is one of the least fun things that happen while you’re living in halls, and I’m not speaking from a noise perspective. In my halls, we had four fire alarms. Three were at night, while it was raining, while I was not wearing shoes. Once someone shared their slippers with me. That is as strange as it sounds. They aren’t entirely unpleasant though, I mean the whole building is outside so you can socialise for a bit. One tip though – if there is a fire alarm in the afternoon, make sure it goes on for longer than about 30 seconds because they test the fire alarms once a week, and I knew a few people who got half way down the stairs in towels after being caught in the shower…

5. Socialise. What I will start off by saying is that I came to Brunel being very shy and socially awkward, I didn’t know what to say to people, and I always assumed they wouldn’t like me anyway. That made socialising more difficult, but then there came a point where I relaxed and realised that at uni, there are very few people who really judge you, and those who do aren’t worth your time anyway. The people who do accept you and who you do get along with are worth your time and are worth socialising with. There were so many times in first year when we’d stay up all night watching films as a flat rather than going out and they were some of my absoluter favourite times and some of my best memories. Being social will do wonders for your sanity, trust me.

6. There’s more than one way to be social. Don’t think that when I say ‘socialise’ I mean go out every night and consume copious amounts of alcohol if that’s not what you want to do. If it is, fine. If not, get your flat mates together to watch a film, walk to town, join all the societies and sports teams you want to. Basically fill up your time with lots of different things and lots of different people. If sport isn’t your thing, there are so many societies, there will be one that is your thing.

7. If there isn’t a society you like, make one. It’s actually pretty easy to get a society together, if you’ve got a handful of people with similar interests and time and energy to put into it, you could have yourself a successful little society.

8. Don’t worry. Your first year of uni is about fun, and it’s about finding yourself. As cliché and wishy washy as that may sound, it’s true. So don’t worry. Of course put the work in, you got this far and let’s be honest, you’re paying for this, so definitely put the work into this. What I mean is don’t burn yourself out in your first year. Of course you want to be proud of yourself, of course you want your parents/friends/family to be proud of you, that’s natural, but burning out won’t do anyone any good. Leave that for third year when the end will be in sight.
9. Sometimes there might be pranks and practical jokes. That’s fine and it’s all fun and game but make sure A. you don’t take it too far. It’s not a joke if someone gets hurt, and B. don’t let security catch you – always have a lookout.
I could go on for ages about how great Brunel is and how much I’m sure you’ll love it here, but you’ve got some celebrating to do! Huge congratulations to you all, once again. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to tweet @BrunelWriter for things related to the course, or tweet me personally @EmphaticPanda, and I will be happy to answer any questions about anything Brunel/freshers/uni related.
In case you’re in need of it, or know anyone who is, here’s the clearing hotline for Brunel university – 01895 272273, and the webpage, should you need further information. Best of luck! http://www.brunel.ac.uk/clearing-adjustment-courses-2014 
We look forward to seeing you around campus in a months time!

Dissertation…

Now, soon-to-be-third-years, I know what you’re thinking – ‘it’s the summer break, I’ve got ages to think about/plan/write my dissertation!’ – and yes, you’re right. You should be enjoying your summer – reading things you want to read, binge watching TV shows, catching up with your friends at home, or getting ahead with your third year reading list. By all means do those things. But don’t rest on your laurels – dissertation will come around sooner than you think!

Of course it’s a big project, but you’d be surprised how quickly you’ll run out of words when you start writing about something you care about enough to spend months researching, planning, writing, rewriting, proofreading, rewriting again, cutting, and redrafting. I know I’m probably making this sound terrifying, but dissertations are actually kind of fun in a strange way, and seeing them all bound and looking official is extremely rewarding.

So, what can you do to make the process of writing a dissertation easier? Here are a few things I learnt while writing my dissertation.

Disso

1. Don’t leave it until the last minute. April will come around extraordinarily quickly – you might think first and second year went quickly, but third year is on a completely different level, it will go in a flash. It’s best to at least start thinking about what kind of area you’re interested in now, or if you know what you want to write about, start jotting down ideas, find yourself some secondary sources, verbalise your ideas to others.

2. Verbalise your ideas to others. Sometimes you’ll have a brilliant idea for your project, but you won’t realise how half-formed it is until you say out loud what the idea is. This is where others come in, they can ask questions, highlight potential flaws and offer some advice. You’ll end up with a stronger project if you include at least one other person. This is of course where your academic advisor comes in handy, but discuss the idea with your peers as well, it’s so easy to get wrapped up in what you’re doing and not notice the pitfalls. In my project, there were glaring continuity errors that I hadn’t noticed until someone pointed it out.

3. With that in mind, don’t take criticism personally. It’s easy to take criticism personally. Especially with creative projects because you made them, you created them, and when someone comes along and tells you it’s not actually perfect it’s easy to feel upset. It’s okay to feel upset, but realise that they’re your friend and they care about you, they want you to do your best and they’re not being nit-picky for the sake of it. Utilise their feedback, and offer them feedback too. As much as it’s a solo project, you’ve come this far together, and this is the time that you’re all going to need support the most.

4. With regards to suggestions, you might not agree with some of the advice you get from some people. This isn’t a time to get defensive, but rather say ‘I don’t really know if that will work, I know it might seem out of place/weird/not quite cohesive now, but I plan for such and such to happen later on.’ This is another way of developing and discussing your ideas with people, and it’s this kind of thing that you can write in the accompanying essay. ‘It was suggested that I alter this bit, however I felt that…’

5. The plan you submit in October is important. I know – 5% seems like nothing, and October might seem a bit soon to be telling people your intentions for something that isn’t due for six months. Let me break it down for you though. If you submit the plan, you get A* for that section. If you don’t submit a plan, you get a big fat 0. When my grade came through, it was at the high end of the boundary. When all the components were added together, the A* that I got just for handing in my plan pushed my whole grade into the next level. Also, what you hand in in April doesn’t even have to resemble what you wrote in your plan. If you say you want to write a story about squirrels and use Winnie the Pooh and Toy Story as your inspirations, no-one will bat an eyelid if you submit a short story of half a film about murderers, using Fatal Attraction and Clockwork Orange as your sources. (But don’t they sound like fun projects?) Basically, JUST SUBMIT THE PLAN. It could be the difference between a low 2:1 and a high 2:1, or a high 2:1 and a 1st.

Plan A

6. As I said above, you’re free to change direction. We’re creative writers, and we can’t be tamed or held to down to one idea. I was lucky enough to change my idea in September but even then, the central idea of the film I wrote changed beyond recognition. Two of my friends got to January and had a sudden epiphany that their new idea was better for them. That being said, if you get a new idea in March, you might want to weigh up the pros and cons of starting this new project. Do you think this is better than your existing project because it’s new or because it’s actually stronger? Is it worth turning your back on everything you’ve already done? Have you lost interest in your project because you’ve been working on it for so long, or has the story actually run its course? One of my other friends changed his idea in March and got a very good result. You have to know yourself. I can only liken dissertations to relationships – if you’re not happy, get the hell out!

7. Ask for help if you need to. Help can come in many forms, if there’s a bit you’re not sure of, ask someone to read over it. The worst they can say is ‘I don’t think it works’ which is what you thought anyway. Also, that’s what your academic advisor is there for, you’re not bothering them by asking them for pointers and advice and your project will be stronger for the advice of others.

8. Make sure you give yourself enough time to proofread and redraft/edit. That’s pretty self explanatory. As Earnest Hemingway said – ‘The first draft of anything is shit’. I agree, and when you proofread your dissertation, it’s not a twenty minute thing. Really proofread it. Read it out loud, you might feel stupid but it’s one of the best ways to spot typing errors or general mistakes. I’m the worst for writing stuff like ‘of’ instead of ‘if’, ‘the’ instead of ‘there’ and I once wrote Beyoncé instead of Beyond (it had been a long day). Check it, check it, check it. Edit it, then check it again. This is important.

9. Your supporting essay is just as important as your project, give it time and attention. It’s the only place where you can explain some of your choices and justify leaving that line in, or giving that character that trait/task/death etc.. Make sure you justify all your choices, include research you’ve done, discuss things you learned, talk about things you’ve changed, consider what professionals in the field have said about your genre/craft etc.. Make sure your referencing is on point. Also to add to the points you make in the essay, include things in the appendix to show your development, research and maybe visual clues about characters or locations. My appendix was slightly bigger than my whole project. (Sorry Max Kinnings.)

10. Don’t leave it until the last minute. I know I said this already, but I’m serious. Sometimes, as students, we get distracted and end up staying up late into the night, sometimes all night to finish/write an essay for a module which is 2,000 words. Let’s be honest with ourselves here – that’s not the best method for those essays, and it’s hard and tiring and frustrating. Do you want to be doing that with something five times the length? What if you get writer’s block?

11. One of the best ways to make sure you get things done in more manageable chunks is to set aside one morning/ afternoon/ evening/ day/ night/ whatever time frame you work best on a week, go to the library with your friends and do some of your project. Be it looking online for information about the best murder techniques, finding books about infectious diseases or watching episodes of Dora the Explorer on YouTube to help form your ideas. Even if you’re only there for an hour and a half with a twenty minute sandwich break in between, It’ll be far more constructive than spending three whole days stressing out over it every couple of weeks. The best way to motivate yourself to do work is to show yourself that you’ve done some work.

12. Finally, enjoy it. It’s something you can really get your teeth into, show what you’re passionate about, and really show where your strengths lie. Then when it’s done, have a big drink/ dance/ pizza. Just celebrate.

success

Best of luck, and enjoy your final year at university!

Things They Don’t Tell You About Graduation

With Brunel’s graduation week having just passed, it seems the perfect time to share some insight which I gained during my own ceremony, which I had very little idea about before the actual day.

graduation

1. It’s a pretty long day but it will go in a flash! Don’t forget to bring a camera, and make sure you take all the photos you possibly can. Especially don’t forget to have a photo with Isambard Kingdom Brunel himself – it’s a staple part of leaving Brunel.

2. You’ll feel pride like you’ve never felt. That’s pride in yourself, in your classmates, in the school that you’ve been a part of, and in the university as a whole.

3. You’ll feel in awe of the people graduating their Master’s degrees, and those receiving their PhD, you may even feel inspired to go on to postgraduate study. (Don’t forget Brunel students receive a discounted fee if they further their study at Brunel)

4. You’ll be standing and walking more than they let on, so wear comfortable shoes. Or wear really impressive ones and carry a spare pair in your bag.

5. Wear waterproof make-up! Even if you don’t cry, you’ll get hot in the robes and some of your make-up will do its best to escape.

6. The complimentary drinks aren’t bad at all!

7. Even if your entire family can’t make it, they will be proud of you and you’ll probably feel so much love from them in the lead up to your graduation (and afterwards) that it will be like they were there all along.

8. Try to eat breakfast. It’s easy to forget or just decide not to if you have a morning graduation as you’re expected to register and collect your gown between 8:30 and 9:30, so the morning is a rush. The ceremony goes on until about 12 o’clock though, so at least make sure you’re hydrated. The robes are hot, you’re probably wearing warmer clothes than you typically would be on a hot day and there are a lot of people in the room. Having something in your stomach is going to be better than sitting there very hungry and possibly even light-headed.

9. I was extremely happy that we had to walk up and down a slope instead of steps to shake hands with the officials, but in the event that you do have to walk up steps, I refer you back to point 4 for the shoe warning.

10. The certificate you’re given is in a folder and isn’t rolled into a scroll. The scrolls are fake and only for photographic purposes.

11. Finally, just enjoy the day. There will be a lot of rushing around, it will be stressful at times and it’s easy to let that affect your mood. Take a deep breath – get your robes, take some photos, laugh at what you all look like wearing the mortar boards, and then realise you’re all actually pulling it off quite well. Get your tickets, meet your guests, take more photos and enjoy it. As I mentioned in point 1 it goes in a flash, enjoy every moment of your success, and the success of those around you.

Credit: Brunel University Facebook Page
Credit: Brunel University Facebook Page

Huge congratulations to the Class of 2014, may your lives be richer for knowing each other, and may your future be as rewarding and as beautiful as you want them to be. Best of luck with whatever comes next.